Amalgamation of Lakshmi Vilas Bank with DBS Bank India Limited
Why in News
- The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, has given its approval to the Scheme of Amalgamation of Lakshmi Vilas Bank Limited (LVB) with DBS Bank India Limited (DBIL).
- On 17.11.2020, to protect depositors’ interest and in the interest of financial and banking stability, on RBI’s application under section 45 of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, LVB had been under moratorium for a period of 30 days.
- In parallel, RBI, in consultation with Government, superseded the Board of Directors of LVB and appointed an Administrator to protect the depositors’ interest.
What happen now?
- With the approval of the scheme, LVB will be amalgamated with DBIL from the appointed date, and with this there will no further restrictions on the depositors regarding withdrawal of their deposits.
Capital infusion into NIIF Infrastructure Debt Financing Platform
Why in News?
- The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, has given its approval to the proposal for equity infusion by Government of Rs 6000 crores in NIIF Debt Platform.
- Sponsored by National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), comprising of Aseem Infrastructure Finance Limited (AIFL) and NIIF Infrastructure Finance Limited (NIIF-IFL), subject to the following conditions:
- That only Rs.2,000 crore would be allocated during the current year 2020-21. However, in view of the unprecedented financial situation and availability of limited fiscal space due to the prevailing COVID-19, the proposed amount may be disbursed only if there is readiness and demand for debt raising.
- NIIF will take all necessary steps to use the equity investments from Domestic and Global pension funds and sovereign wealth funds expeditiously.
NIIF Strategic Opportunities Fund
- It has set up a Debt Platform comprising an NBFC Infra Debt Fund and an NBFC Infra Finance Company.
- NIIF through its Strategic Opportunities Fund (‘NIIF SOF’) owns a majority position in both the companies and has already invested ~ Rs.1,899 crore across the Platform.
- The Strategic Opportunities Fund (SOF fund) through which the NIIF investment has been made will continue to support the two companies apart from investing in other suitable investment opportunities.
Implementation strategy and targets:
- The strategy is AIFL will predominantly focus on under construction / greenfield / brownfield assets with less than one year of operations. NIIF Infrastructure Debt Financing Platform will have its own in-house appraisal system, which will enable faster deployment of funds.
- NIIF IFL (NBFC-IDF) will operate as a take-out vehicle for mature operating assets. It will help infrastructure investors in replacing high cost bank finance with cheaper IDF finance post-commissioning. Over the next 5 years (NIP Plan Period), NIIF Infrastructure Debt Financing Platform can potentially support the construction of infrastructure projects worth ~ Rs.100,000 crore.
- The Platform will also need to raise external long-term equity capital as well as debt from both domestic and international markets over the next few years which could result in a multiplier of 14 -18 times of the proposed capital infusion of up to Rs. 6,000 crore from GOI.
- NIIF will make strong efforts to use the equity investments by Government to catalyse equity investments by Domestic and Global Pension, Insurance and Sovereign Wealth Funds in the NIIF Infrastructure Debt Financing Platform.
- Rs 6,000 crores will be invested as equity in the NIIF Debt Platform over two financial years, i.e., 2020-21 and 2021-22.
- NIIF Infrastructure Debt Financing Platform is expected to contribute nearly Rs 1 lakh crores in debt to the infrastructure sector over the next 5 years.
- This will act as a catalyst in attracting more investments into the infrastructure sector as envisaged in National Infrastructure Pipeline.
- This process will also help relieve exposure of banks to infrastructure projects and free up space for new green-field projects. Strengthening the IDF / take-out financing space in the infrastructure sector will support enhance liquidity of infrastructure assets and lower the risks.
MoU between ICAI and VRC
- The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, has approved the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) and the Vereniging van Register controllers(VRC), the Netherlands.
- The MoU would help instrengthening and development of the Accounting, Financial and Audit Knowledge Base between the Netherlands and India.
Implementation strategy and Targets:
- ICAI and VRC will work together to hold and conduct Technical Events, Seminars,Conferences in the Netherlands;
- To establish possible co-operation in respect of Member Management, Professional Ethics, Technical Research, Continuing Professional Education; Professional Accountancy Training, Education and Examinations, as well as the Institutional Capacity Building of the Accountancy profession;
- To offer short term professional courses in the domain of Accounting, Finance,Information Technology and Audit in the Netherlands;
- To discuss potential emerging developments in form of Students and Faculty Exchange programmes;
- Share available unrestricted information concerning the accountancy profession in India and the Netherlands and internationally when required.
- The engagement between the premier Institutes of both the countries would help to generate greater employment opportunities for Indian Chartered Accountants and also greater remittances back to India.
- The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) is a statutory body established under the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949 for the regulation of the profession of Chartered Accountants in India.
- Vereniging van Register controllers (VRC), established in 1988, is a voluntary professional organization and members offer services in management accounting, financial accounting, integrated reporting, strategic control and risk management, and corporate governance.
National Portal for Transgender Persons
Why in News
- Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment e-launched a ‘National Portal for Transgender Persons’ and e-inaugurated a ‘Garima Greh: A Shelter Home for Transgender Persons’ in Vadodara, Gujarat.
- It would help a transgender person in applying for a Certificate and Identity card digitally from anywhere in the country.
- The most important benefit is that it helps the transgender person to get the I-Card without any physical interface and without having to visit any office.
- Through the Portal, they can monitor the status of their application that ensures transparency in the process.
- The issuing authorities are also under strict timelines to process the applications and issue certificates and identity cards without any necessary delays.
‘Garima Greh: A Shelter Home for Transgender Persons’
- e-inaugurated in Vadodara, Gujarat will be run in association with Lakshya Trust, a Community based organisation entirely run by the Transgenders.
- The purpose of the Shelter Home is to provide shelter to Transgender persons, with basic amenities like shelter, food, medical care and recreational facilities.
- It will provide support for the capacity-building/skill development of persons in the Community, which will enable them to lead a life of dignity and respect.
Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019
- Came into effect on 10th January 2020.
- To implement the provisions of the Act the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment issued the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, 2020 which have been notified in the Gazzette of India.
- The Rules ensure that comprehensive welfare measures reach the Transgender Community and help them come into the mainstream of the Society.
- The right to self-perceived gender identity and the procedure to issue the Transgender certificate and Identity card has been defined in the Rules.
- The process has been made smooth and hassle free to ensure that Transgender persons are able to attain their self-perceived identity card without any inconvenience.
Why in News
- A massive nutrition portal developed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), which is used by the Centre as well as most States, and touted as the world’s biggest nutrition system, to record and monitor delivery of services to children and mothers across nearly seven lakh anganwadis has been down for nearly three months.
- The software was developed under the Poshan Abhiyaan approved by the Cabinet in 2017 with a three-year budget of ₹9,000 crore, half of which was for ICT-based real-time monitoring system.
- While 50% of the amount is funded by the government budgetary support, the remaining 50% is a loan from the World Bank.
- POSHAN Abhiyaan’s Integrated Child Development Services Common Application Software (ICDS-CAS) is an innovative web and mobile-phone based application to improve service delivery and programme management.
- The application facilitates anganwadi workers (AWWs) in their daily tasks, helps supervisors to assess and provide feedback to the workers and helps other programme officials to track service delivery and take informed decisions.
- The ICDS-CAS has three components — a mobile-based application for AWWs, a mobile-based application for supervisors and a web-based dashboard for other programme officials.
Ensuring Adequate Numbering Resources for Fixed Line and Mobile Services
- With the consideration of TRAI Recommendation on “Ensuring Adequate Numbering Resources for Fixed Line and Mobile Services” Department of Telecommunications has taken the decision of implementing the following:
- All Fixed to Mobile calls will be dialed with prefix ‘0’ from 15th January, 2021.
- There will be no change in dialing plan from fixed to fixed, mobile to fixed and mobile to mobile calls.
- Suitable announcement will be made for the same. This announcement shall be played whenever a subscriber dials a fixed to mobile call without prefixing ‘0’.
- All fixed line subscribers will be provided with ‘0’ dialing facility.
- A total of approximately 2539 million numbering series is expected to be generated from the above. This will free up sufficient numbering resources for future use.
- With the freeing up of sufficient numbering resources, more number of connections can be added in future which will be beneficial to the mobile customers at large.
- The above changes have been done in order to have minimum inconvenience to the subscribers and freeing up essential numbering resources.
Constitution Day of India
- Constitution Day or Samvidhan Diwas is celebrated annually in India on 26 November.
- The day is also known as National Law Day. The day commemorates the adoption of the Constitution in India.
- On this day in 1949, the Constituent Assembly of India formally adopted the Constitution of India that came into force on 26 January 1950.
- The declaration regarding Constitution day was made by PM Narendra Modi on October 11, 2015.
- While on 26 November, the Constituent Assembly of India adopted the Constitution of India, which came into effect from 1950, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on 19 November, 2015, notified the decision of the Government of India to celebrate 26 November as ‘Constitution Day’.
- The day is celebrated to promote Constitution values among citizens.
- The Constituent Assembly met for 166 days for two years, 11 months, and 18 days before the Constitution was finally adopted.
- The members of the Constituent Assembly signed two hand-written copies of the document on 24 January 1950 and two days later, it became the law of the land.
- The Constitution Day is celebrated as a mark of tribute to India’s first Law Minister BR Ambedkar, who played a pivotal role in drafting the Indian Constitution.
What is the Constitution of India
- The Constitution is a set of written principles and precedents of the Government of India that frames fundamental political principles, procedures, rights, directive principles, restrictions, and duties of the government and the citizens of the country.
- It declares India to be a sovereign, secular, socialist, and democratic republic and assures its citizens’ equality, liberty, and justice.
Some interesting facts about the Constitution of India:
- The Constitution of India has borrowed some of its features from 10 other countries, including Britain, Ireland, Japan, USA, South Africa, Germany, Australia, and Canada.
- The Constituent Assembly of India was established in 1946. It met for 166 days spread over 2 years, 11 months and 18 days.
- Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India, was elected as the President of the Constituent Assembly and Dr. B. R. Ambedkar was the head of the drafting committee.
- B. R. ambedkar is regarded as the father of Indian Constitution.
- Indian Constitution is a hand-written document. It is one of the longest hand-written documents in the world. There are total of 1,17,369 words in the English version of the Constitution of India.
- The original constitution document was signed by 283 members of the parliament.
- The word “socialist” was added to the preamble of the Indian Constitution during emergency, by the 42nd amendment act of 1976.
- The original hand-written copies of the Constitution are preserved in helium-filled cases in the Library of Parliament House.
- The basic structure of the Indian Constitution stands on the Government of India Act, 1935.
Device for Typing in Braille
Why in News
- Four students from the Indian Institute of Technology – Madras have come together to develop a handy device for the visually impaired.
How it Works
- The assistive device fits into the port of a smartphone and helps them to type, learn and read braille content.
- It also allows them to self-navigate through space and recognise people and objects.
- The camera on the device, along with the smartphone’s camera, is used to capture and process (computer vision) a wide field of view to provide the user navigation information through tactile braille cells about the proximity and nature of the obstacles.
- The refreshable braille cells project symbols to convey time, proximity to obstacles etc. and help in learning and typing on the smartphone in braille.
Colder Days, Normal Temperature at Nights
Why in News?
- For the past few days, Chandigarh and its neighbouring states have been experiencing unusually cold days although the night temperatures are normal.
Why is this so?
- Meteorological officials have attributed the trend to the cloud cover in the region which was absent until a few days ago.
- It is the result of a western disturbance, which has brought about a spell of precipitation in the northwest Himalaya.
- During the day, clouds obstruct the heat from the sun from reaching the surface of the earth, reflecting some of it back into space.
- This lowers the temperature. Cold winds blowing down from snow-bound areas in the mountains also contribute to the cooling effect.
- At night, however, clouds act like blankets – they help retain some of the heat energy radiated back by the earth’s surface.
- An overcast weather at night, thus, increases the greenhouse warming.
What happens when the cloud cover goes away?
- The reverse. After few days, dry conditions and a clear sky are expected to prevail. This will increase the day temperatures, but nights will become cooler.
How did the clouds get here?
- In northern India, winter rains and clouds are generally caused by moisture-bearing wind systems called western disturbances, which originate and gather moisture over the Mediterranean region and flow eastwards towards the Indian subcontinent.
- When some of these winds run into mountains of the northwest Himalaya, they are forced upward.
- At higher altitudes, the temperatures drop and water vapour gets condensed. This leads to cloud formation and eventually rain and snow.
Why in News?
- Recently, pulmonologists has underlined the problem of post-Covid-19 interstitial lung disease (PC-ILD) — another name for pulmonary fibrosis — as a condition that chest physicians will have address and manage increasingly more frequently.
How common is lung fibrosis in Covid-19 patients?
- While the vast majority of the almost 60 million people who have contracted the virus around the world have had only a mild or moderate infection, about 10% will develop severe Covid-19 pneumonia, and 5% will develop Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).
And how serious is the threat from lung fibrosis?
- It usually occurs in elderly people, where the lungs become stiff and the ability of oxygen to enter the blood circulation diminishes.
- If the Covid-19 virus causes lung fibrosis as a sequelae to the coronavirus disease pneumonia, large numbers of cases may potentially result from the pandemic.
Why in News?
- Malayalam feature “Jallikattu”, directed by Lijo Jose Pellissery, has been selected as India’s official entry for the International Feature Film category at the 93rd Academy Awards, the Film Federation of India (FFI) announced.
- “Jallikattu”, which was unanimously chosen from 27 entries across Hindi, Marathi and other languages, is about a tribe of men coming together to stop a bull that has run amok in their village.
- Derives its name from the popular-yet-controversial bull-taming event from the south.
India’s on Oscar
- No Indian film has ever won an Oscar. The last film from India that made it to the final five in the Best Foreign Film category list was Ashutosh Gowariker’s “Lagaan” in 2001.
- “Mother India” (1958) and “Salaam Bombay” (1989) are the other two Indian movies to have made it to the top five.
- In June, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) had announced that the 2021 Oscars will be held on April 25, 2021, eight weeks later than originally planned because of the coronavirus pandemic’s effects on the film industry.
Sea Guardian Drones
Why in News?
- The Indian Navy has inducted two MQ-9B Sea Guardian unarmed drones procured from the U.S. on lease.
- The drones are on lease for one year.
- All planning, execution and operations will be with the Indian Navy.
- The Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) will play a support role for maintenance.
Why on Lease
- The recently released Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020 has introduced an option for leasing military platforms.
- As part its force restructuring to offset budgetary constraints, the Navy has been looking to induct more unmanned solutions, both aerial and underwater.
- As part of this, the requirement of additional P-8I maritime patrol aircraft has been cut down from 10 to six and was to be offset by procurement of long endurance drones.
About Guardian Drone
- The Guardian, which is the maritime variant of the Predator MQ-9 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), has a maximum endurance of 40 hours and a maximum flying altitude of 40,000 feet.
- It has a 3600 maritime surveillance radar and an optional multimode maritime surface search radar..
- The drone can “perform over-the-horizon long-endurance, medium-altitude Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions.
- At the 2+2 dialogue with the U.S. last month, India signed the last foundational agreement Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA), which simplifies such high- technology cooperation.
Venus orbiter mission ‘Shukrayaan’
Why in News?
- Sweden is getting on board India’s Venus orbiter mission ‘Shukrayaan’ with a scientific instrument to explore the planet.
- Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF) is engaged in the venture, its second collaborative project with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
What it do?
- IRF’s satellite instrument Venusian Neutrals Analyzer [VNA] will study how the charged particles from the Sun interact with the atmosphere and exosphere of the planet.
- The VNA would be the ninth generation of IRFs series of miniatured ion and ENA (Energetic Neutral Atoms) instruments.
- The first generation was named SARA (Sub-keV Atom Reflecting Analyser) and was launched on board the Indian spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 that explored the Moon in 2008-2009.
- SARA consisted of two sensors.
- One was a detector for energetic neutral atoms and the other was an instrument to measure the flow of ions in the solar wind.
- The instrument studied how the plasma around the Moon interacts with the moon where the surface is not protected by an atmosphere or a magnetic field.
- The SARA experiment was the first collaborative project between IRF and the ISRO.
India’s recent FDI relaxation
- India is opening the space market for commercial player participation and easing import- export restrictions, including 100% FDI allowed in satellite development and deployment.
- ISRO was eyeing June, 2023 for the country’s first mission to Venus.
AstraZeneca Manufacturing Error
Why in News?
- AstraZeneca and Oxford University have acknowledged a manufacturing error that is raising questions about preliminary results of their experimental COVID-19 vaccine.
- The group of volunteers that got a lower dose seemed to be much better protected than the volunteers who got two full doses.
- In the low-dose group, the vaccine appeared to be 90% effective.
- In the group that got two full doses, the vaccine appeared to be 62% effective.
- Combined, the vaccine appeared to be 70% effective.
Free Sanitary Products
Why in News?
- Scotland made sanitary products free to all women, becoming the first nation in the world to take such a step against “period poverty.”
- The measure makes tampons and sanitary pads available at designated public places such as community centres, youth clubs and pharmacies.
- The Period Products (Free Provision) Scotland Bill passed unanimously.
- In 2018, Scotland became the first country to provide free sanitary products in schools, colleges and universities.
- Some 10% of girls in Britain have been unable to afford sanitary products, according to a survey by the children’s charity Plan International in 2017, with campaigners warning many skip classes as a consequence.
Que- Diego Maradona, one of the greatest footballers of all time, recently dies aged 60, belongs to which country